Get to Know J Kutchma: An Interview

As part of our effort to highlight the music of the folks we'll be sharing the stage with on November 12, we now bring you an interview with Jason Kutchma. I first met J at the now-defunct Joe and Jo's Pub in downtown Durham, and it was there that he told me about this band called Red Collar that he was trying to start. When I finally got to see the band, I was blown away.

Turns out his solo stuff is dynamite too. There's some kind of inherent badassery to a guy who pulls off something like this:

#26 J Kutchma: Used to Believe from Love Drunk on Vimeo.

Anyways check out J's music and our conversation below, and make sure to come early on the 12th to see more.

Bombadil: Bands get asked all the time to describe what they're about. What is the music of J Kutchma NOT about?

JK: It's not about realizing that it's probably all a bunch of bullshit.

Bombadil: My English teacher once told me that F. Scott Fitzgerald said novelists basically spend their entire lives rewriting the same book over and over again. If that were true for songwriters, what's the one song you're perpetually refining?

JK: It's a great question. I don't know if it's true with music. If it is, my one song would probably be Red Collar's "Used Guitars."  I haven't thought about it much but maybe I really do write lyrics from different angles of that song. Some days I feel like the protagonist. Other days, I'm the antagonist. Some days, I can't decide which is which. Some days I can't think about it at all.

Bombadil: What's your favorite way / place / person to find out about new music?

JK: I really enjoy The Whiskey in downtown Durham on Main Street. It's not necessarily 'new' music. But it's usually new to me.

Bombadil: Where'd you get those spurs anyways?

JK: I got them right before Red Collar made the first 'Van Road Trip'. Before that, all road trips were made using two and three cars. When you use a van, I don't know, you feel legit. Everyone's in it to win it. Shit gets serious.

It was our first trip to Texas for SXSW. I had been wearing combat boots for a while and thought it would be cool to put some spurs on them for a trip out West. I went to a Cowboy Western Store at Northgate Mall in Durham and asked the hunched aproned curmudgeon behind the counter if he had any spurs.

"Sure do."

And I saw them in the display case and I just knew.

When I got to the counter, I thought it would be cool to get another little piece of pizazz to go along with the spurs:

Umm, excuse me, but, um, do you have a sheriff's badge too? The old kind?

This wrinkled, sun worn old man looked at me and said:

"Naww...and we don't got the little toy gun to along with it either."

I put the spurs on the boots and something wasn't quite right. I wore them to Austin anyways, knowing they weren't done yet. You got to do that sometimes.

Parenthetical aside: Andrew and Mike of Red Collar eventually found me a 'Texas Rangers' badge in Austin. I had that for years. It broke in St. Louis (as a lot of things do).

After Austin, I saw Dreamgirls, the Bill Condon movie with Beyonce, Jaime Foxx and Eddie Murphy. There was a point where Eddie Murphy (playing a James Brown-esque role) is dressed in a 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong suit and he kicks his feet up on a record label owners desk...

...and his sparkling shoes are gold.

I just knew.

I used to only wear them when I played shows but in 2009 I decided to embrace the fact that I was a full-time musician. From then on I wore them every day. Even to weddings.

Maybe not funerals. Haven't had to make that decision yet. Thank heavens.

Bombadil: Who's more punk: Dylan or Waits?

JK: Hmmmm. Wow.

I guess it mostly depends on someone's definition of what punk is. For me, punk was about being undefined...except in terms of being an absolute individual, not an original, but more like a neat sum of one's parts.

Punk. I only started hearing the term when used with bands. Punk.

That was what was so interesting about those very, very early punk bands. They were all kinda the same but only in the sense that they weren't doing what was popular. They were very individual statements that were guided and glued by a culmination of three or four or five individuals who each brought something really unique to their band.

People get lumped over and over again into these ridiculous categories, corralled and conquered by yellowed and weathered Do Not Cross lines. Soon we started to permit ourselves to be lumped in with people that we have nothing in common with except maybe we all like to watch a certain sitcom and then hey-hey-hey thirty thirsty Mountain Dew seconds later than that we like same kind of Lite Beer then lo-and-behold we all live in the same kind of housing and hey-what-do-you-know we all like the same kind of sweatpants...

...we all become 45 pounds overweight...

...we all start to like the same color of taupe...

...we all own a Toyota... know. You all know, right? I'm not out of line, am I?

I hope that people are a lot more complex than what sports team stockholders think we are but I guess who can really say? At least without a B.A. in Marketing, no one can really say.

So, if I think about it in those terms, I think Dylan may have swayed towards the popular trends every so often. If you're not so quick to join my hand in condemnation, the incriminating evidence is online if you search for the words 'Dylan' and '80's'. He didn't sway much...but every so often yeah sure he did. Who can blame him?

We all do.

All of us except for Tom Waits.

Bombadil: Any more tattoos in the works?

JK: Nope. That one was special. It felt like it was there all my life. Never really stared at it. Didn't really put the lotion on. Didn't show it off. I forgot about it the next day. People have said that tattoos are addictive but I haven't felt that way.

Not yet anyways.

J Kutchma and his band have the second slot for our CD release party at the Cat's Cradle on November 12.  

Image of J Kutchma by Plastic Flame Press